Sunday, July 31, 2011

Treasure

Beach Day

I love that he doesn't care about getting wet or messy. If something brings him joy, he doesn't think about it. He is completely un-self-conscious about his body, his likes, his life.

Walk

Seaweed

Rocks and sticks are still treasures. He relishes pulling a slimy green plant out of the lake. "What's this!"—more a joyful exclamation than a question. Because it's cool, that's what it is.

Treasure

String?

"What did you bwing to eat?" Just a snack. It's lunchtime but I didn't think we'd stay this long.

He wants to eat his snack way out there (pointing). So we walk out to the edge of the dock and sit out in the sun, munching quietly. He asks about the painted letters by our feet: NO SWIMMING.

Tortilla chips and a bit of vegan rice cheese for him, raw almonds for me. "You're welcome to have some almonds too," I tell him, "but I know you don't really care for them."

As we walk back to the shallow water, he "reads" the signs to me. Then he climbs back into the lake to continue searching for underwater treasure.

Shallow

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Friday, July 29, 2011

On the Lamb

Remember when I asked you to suggest some temporary birth control to get me through the next few weeks months whatever? I considered all of your input very carefully. ("Pull and pray"? Really, guys? I know science agrees with you, but this would make me absolutely crazy. I would think I was pregnant all the time.) In the end, I decided to get myself some non-latex condoms.

And when I say non-latex, I mean MADE OF ANIMAL PARTS.

On the Lamb
For YOUR animal parts.

I can only imagine the box copy being read by Seth Rogan. It says "Natural Skin Condoms," which just makes me think of that line of his in Knocked Up: "You think I'm a fucking inventor? I made a dick-skin condom?"

Interestingly, lambskin condoms aren't actually made of lamb skin, as the bold text on the little packets hints.

On the Lamb

That "natural membrane"—which sounds terribly sexy, doesn't it?—is actually sheep intestine.

This is the paragraph where I say yes, I know they're not vegan. So not vegan. This is also the paragraph leading up to the paragraph where I say I don't care that they're not vegan.

What goes on my body affects me differently than what goes in it. Because I make this distinction, I don't call myself a vegan, usually; I say I eat a vegan diet. (Although even that has some gray area to it. The pink stuff that's moisturizing my lips right now almost certainly contains bee products or bug parts or both, and they say you ingest a significant portion of the lipstick you apply. I'm actually vaguely curious to know how much non-vegetarian lip product I've inadvertently consumed over the years.) I own a couple pairs of fancy leather boots that I adore, and I plan to wear them and care for them for the rest of my life. Perhaps I will pass them on to a deserving, similar-sized granddaughter. They're really quite nice.

Of course, lambskin condoms are not like leather goods in the longevity sense. (I was always mildly offended when the health teacher would tell us never to reuse a condom, because, really?! First of all...HOW!? Machine wash on delicate, reshape and lay flat to dry? Top rack of the dishwasher?) Because lambskin condoms are recognizably, well, natural, they seem to exist in a weird animal-product limbo, right on the line between food and fashion statement. Still, they have a few things going for them. Like being biodegradable!

Oh, and feeling UH-MAY-ZING.

I figured you were probably curious about that.

So this is the paragraph where I describe the non-vegan sex! Using horny naked person logic, at first my partner in crime and I decided to try a new position to go with our new birth control. Focusing on logistics meant the effect of having a "natural" barrier between us wasn't terribly noticeable. But in an old, familiar position, the difference between lambskin and latex was obvious immediately. As in, the lambskin condom was totally NOT obvious. While latex condoms have a habit of making actual dude-parts feel like rubber sex toys, lambskin condoms just feel like skin. Because they are.

I was warned by the Internet that "natural" would mean a lingering "barnyard" aroma. They don't. They're lubricated, so they smell like lube. They are quite a bit slimier than their latex brethren, and when you open up the package, the condom doesn't stand up in a neat little tipi for you. You have to find the tip, confirm that you're not holding the condom inside out, and then negotiate getting it on. So to speak. Once the condom is in place, however, all is well and wonderful. As Rob put it, "I am pro this -phylactic."

For the record, I didn't do a taste-test. One of the advantages to being in a long-term, monogamous relationship with a disease-free person is never having to go down on the Michelin man.

My only real complaint with lambskin condoms is the little packet. The wrappers seem thicker than the ones on most latex condoms. I don't know what they're made of, but it is impenetrable when slippery! With clean, dry fingers? No problem. But if your hands are even the tiniest bit slick, good luck getting the packet open easily! Better to plan and open it ahead of time.

Also? They're mega-pricey.

On the Lamb
You KNOW it's personal, Rite Aid.

While a 12-pack of your standard latex condoms goes for about $12.00, a 12-pack of lambskins cost me $46.85 at my local drugstore. Or almost $4.00 each. About the same as the (non-latex!) female condom—which are not made of animal parts, but do look like they're from outer space.

For the time being, not getting pregnant, not having a nasty reaction, and feeling awesome is totally worth the expense. And worth having sheep intestine in my pussy every time I have sex.

Which, as non-squeamish as I am, does ick me out just a teeny bit. Rob's realization doesn't help:

"It's like cock haggis."

And nothing says "sexy" to a vegan food-eater like haggis.

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Post-Kid Kitchen: Leftover Fruit and Vegetable Muffins

Leftover Fruit Muffins

The world seems to be full of recipes for "leftover cereal muffins"—a great way of using up that little bit of extra oatmeal or Cream of Rice or other hot cereal. Except that I never have leftover hot cereal. But I always have leftover raw fruit and veggies because I have a child who likes to ask for a carrot, eat two bites, and leave the rest. Or I'll be cleaning out the fridge and find half an apple languishing in an airtight container.

This week, I decided to try folding these "Westley leavings" into baked goods, and lo and behold! Delicious muffins!

A note about ingredients: I use egg replacer powder and Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All-Purpose baking flour because that's what I keep around. Because I hate mixing flours and love Bob and his moulin rouge. As for fruit and veggies, you can really use whatever's lying around—provided you think it would taste good in muffins. The first batch I made was apple-raspberry: half a green apple, shredded, and a big handful of fresh raspberries. The second batch (the one I decided to photograph) was carrot-raisin...plus four raspberries that Westley left on his breakfast plate.

Leftover Fruit and Vegetable Muffins
Makes 1 dozen

1 cup gluten-free oats
1 cup almond milk
1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp egg replacer powder, plus 2 Tbsp warm water
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup canola oil -
or- 1/3 cup applesauce plus 2 Tbsp canola oil
1 1/4 cups all-purpose gluten-free baking flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
Leftovers!
(I used about two medium carrots, shredded, along with 1/3 cup raisins and four fresh raspberries.)

In a large bowl combine the oats, milk, and vinegar. Let it stand for a few minutes while you preheat your oven to 400 F. In a small bowl, combine egg replacer powder and water and mix well. Add the "egg," sugar and oil (and applesauce, if using) to the oat mixture and mix well. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and xanthan gum. Mix again until everything is well combined. Fold in any fruits and veggies (or nuts, or chocolate chips) to be used up.

Fill a dozen well-oiled muffin cups with batter. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Serve warm. Feel frugal.

Leftover Fruit Muffins

How do you use up your "kid leftovers"?

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Art of Snacking

Yesterday Westley informed me that the food I make often "looks yucky, but sometimes tasteses good."

I agreed that yes, some foods look kind of funny. "Yucky" is not a word I use, ever. I object to it in the way some parents object to "stupid" or "bored." Westley undoubtedly learned "yucky" from Yo Gabba Gabba. (Shame on you, Gabba friends!) I also mentioned that you never know how something will taste until you try it.

Still, I took Westley's comment into consideration. For snack, I presented him with this.

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Cucumber-carrot palm trees on a celery beach, under a full hummus moon.
A little nod to the summer we're not seeing in Seattle.

Westley looked hard at the plate. Then he looked at me like I had finally lost my mind and he had seen it coming all along. He ate the celery and left everything else undisturbed.

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Bloody Awesome


Last week, I thought my body was trying to have a period—right on time, if I count the D&C as Day 1)—but the gunk coming out of me looked scary. Kind of like the stuff that makes Spider-Man into the Bad Spider-Man. Not the sort of thing that shouts, "Healthy reproductive system!"

But just in time for the weekend, things took a turn for the normal, and I can happily say with complete confidence, I got my period!

(I guess the Venom-y discharge was just the system revving up? Let's hope...)

This is actually pretty exciting stuff. This is my first normal period in seven months, and it feels like a huge sigh of relief. Also, I actually kind of like my period. Even before all of this pregnancy-loss and retained-placental tissue stuff, my period was a welcome sign that my body insides were more or less healthy, doing what they're supposed to do.

I also have a few things that make my period-time more awesome than it might otherwise be, starting with...


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I love my washable pads. They're truly one of the best purchases I've ever made for myself. I bought the Deluxe Kit when Rob and I were first married, and a few extra pads and liners since, and they have more than paid for themselves. Disposable menstrual products are icky, pricey, and bad for Mother Earth. Cloth pads are comfy, durable, and make you feel a little more like an amazing Earth Mother. Plus, they're cute!


[Source]

Incidentally, if you're going to have a miscarriage and bleed and spot more or less continuously for three weeks months straight, having your pads be soft and pretty is excellent for morale. Just saying.

2.) Dark chocolate + Raspberry

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As you may know, I am not a fan of the chocolate. Unless you stick some fruit in it, and then I'm mildly interested. If you're a period-time-means-chocolate-time gal, I recommend throwing some raspberries into the mix.

Rob must have picked up on my silent fantasizing about eating chocolate-raspberry something, because he came home with a bar of Rice Dream Raspberry Dark Chocolate. Which we promptly devoured, though it was a little sweeter than I like. Naturally, I was forced to give myself a little Chocolove.

(Note to the all soy-free, all the time folks: both of these contain soy lecithin. I'm still on the lookout for a vegan, gluten-free, soy-free chocolate-raspberry something.)


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The Hot Diggity Dog—which is just so much fun to say!—is basically a microwaveable rice sock in the shape of a dachshund. He's designed to be warmed up and draped around your neck to ease muscle and shoulder pain. But he's equally fantastic for cramps! I like to sit with him between my low back and the chair, or draped over my lap. Of course, I have to find him first.

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Hot Diggity Dog is usually mixed up with Westley's stuffed animal posse. Probably because he looks so cute curled up on the playroom daybed. In fact, I might just have to admit that this thing is actually a full-time toy now, and make myself a sewn rice bag. After I learn to sew, that is.

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Just a little note to say this was NOT a sponsored post. I just really, truly dig this period-friendly stuff and wanted to share. Or overshare, as per usual.

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

ABC of Me

Instead of writing about my reproductive organs—again—I decided to borrow this idea from Amanda.

* * *
Ambition - True self-confidence.

Bad Habit - Forgetting to wear my glasses and singing with headphones on. Also, I tend to eat standing up, which drives Rob mildly crazy.

Loserface
(Oh, and I bite my nails.)

City - Seattle!
Pride Needle

Drink - Kombucha.

Education - BA.

Food - Homemade! I'm partial to Mexican food, and could probably eat salsa every day for the rest of my life. Avocados make everything better. And, because we're finally having some summery weather here, huge slabs of watermelon eaten with a fork and steak knife. I also love a good vegan cheesecake.

Guilty Pleasure - America's Next Top Model.

Hometown - Santa Monica.

Ice Cream - Bleh. I eat it every once in a while to remind myself that I really don't like it. At all.

Jonesing for - A Runaway Bunny tattoo.

Kryptonite -
Wiped Out

Westley's baby pictures, thrift stores, and Dykes on Bikes.

Look-alike - Rob and my mom both say Drew Barrymore, but I think I look more like Kirstie Alley circa Look Who's Talking.

Drew Kirstie

Movie - This is unfair. There are too many. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Ball of Fire. Some Like it Hot. Away We Go. I could go on forever.

Nickname - NaNa.

Obsession - Gaga Stigmata.

Perfume - None.

Quirk - I rearrange the books and papers that get left out so that they're at right angles to the table.

Regret - Several, but I can't go back and do things differently—so fuck 'em.

Starbucks - Tall soy chai or coffee Frappuccino.

Talent - I can turn a fridge full of unrelated leftovers into a delicious, cohesive meal in under an hour.

University - of Southern California was where I was going to attend graduate school. I got married instead.

Vacation - Friends + beach house.

Plum Island Blvd

Wine - Riesling.

XXIX - Half a year away.

Years - 28.

Zen - Clean house, sleeping child.

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Friday, July 22, 2011

Movie Date Review

Movie Date

Going to the movies is my favorite thing ever. I have dreamed of the day I could take my child to see a movie in the theater since before he was born. I have so many fond memories of my dad taking me on father-daughter dates to the movies; sometimes I even got to be "sick" and miss school to go!

I wanted to make sure Westley could appreciate the experience before I brought him to a loud, dark room with a giant screen. I could imagine such a thing being super-intimidating to a 3.5-year-old. I had no idea how he'd react, and I was ready to offer lots of comfort and reassurance if need be. This was supposed to be fun, after all!

I had absolutely no reason to worry. As we stood in line for our Winnie the Pooh tickets, Westley jumped up and down and sang, "I love movies! I love popcorn!" (Which is true. He polished off nearly all of a medium popcorn and a pink lemonade by himself.) He sat up perfectly straight, truly on the edge of his seat, the entire time we were in the theater. He admired the emergency aisle lighting, bopped along to the previews, and tried to sing along to the film's (excellent) music. I only had to shush him a few times.

Before we left, Westley threw away his trash and used the bathroom on his own. (I went in with him, but faced the fall since he'd asked for "some pwivacy.") He gushed over all the posters in the lobby: "That's the movie we just saw!" he observed happily, pointing out a Winnie the Pooh banner. And he posed with Puss in Boots.

Movie Date

Overall, Westley had a pretty good time, but it was my favorite mother-son date ever.

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Post-Kid Kitchen: Meet Your Yeast (and Bacteria!)

I don't recall what possessed me to pick up that first bottle of kombucha. I may have read a little blurb about it in Bust magazine, come to think of it. Something about it tasting like fruity, vinegary beer, but being strangely appealing—and addictive.

I loved it immediately. Some people say it's an acquired taste, but I think I may have pre-acquired it from years of drinking apple cider vinegar tonic. (In an 8 oz glass of filtered water mix 1-3 tsp Bragg's raw, unfiltered, organic apple cider vinegar and 1 tsp of raw honey, agave, maple syrup, stevia or other sweetener. Skål!) The only problem I had with kombucha was the price: $3.00 or more for a 16 oz bottle. I was completely delighted to discover that with a little patience and a lot of cleanliness, I could make this tasty stuff at home.

On my recent trip, I paid $4.16 for a bottle of ginger-lemon flavored kombucha at the sweetest little health food store ever—and it killed me. Don't get me wrong, I love giving my money to tiny businesses, but a 16 oz bottle of my homebrew costs me about 13 1/2 cents to make!

Never-ending Kombucha
Makes 3 quarts

Kombucha SCOBY
3 quarts purified water
1 cup sugar (preferably organic)
5-6 black tea bags (preferably organic)

What's a SCOBY? It's an acronym for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast, and it's what makes your sweet tea into glorious, tart, fizzy kombucha. And it grosses Rob out beyond belief.

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Layered SCOBYs

There are several ways to acquire a SCOBY. Just like everything else these days, SCOBYs can be found for sale online. I've heard of people selling them (and occasionally giving them away) on Craigslist and various health-foodie-type forums. Or you can grow your own!

I grew my SCOBY from a bottle of raw kombucha from the health food store. It has to be raw, as heat kills the bacteria that make it possible for a new SCOBY to form. Make sure you get a bottle with lots of "gunk" in it, if possible. Those brown, stringy bits are actually small strands of the SCOBY, and if you feed them, they will grow!

Simply bring 3 quarts of water to the boil, add 1 cup of sugar (I used turbinado), and let boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, add 5-6 black tea bags and steep 10 minutes. Remove the tea bags and move the tea to an impeccably clean glass gallon-size jar to cool. When the tea has cooled to body temperature, pour in your bottled kombucha, and cover with a dish cloth or old T-shirt (cheesecloth is a no-no—the loose weave will let in the fruit flies). Secure your cloth with a rubber band, and put your jar somewhere out of the way. Try to forget about it for a couple of weeks at least.

It took my SCOBY about a month to grow nice and strong.

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Now, you could drink brew that results from your SCOBY-growing experiment, but it will be super tart and very vinegary. You could also use it in place of vinegar in sauces or salad dressings. Just make sure you save a few cups for your next batch of kombucha. That will go a little something like this:

First, uncover your jar.

Hello, &<span class=
Hello, SCOBY!

I'm often weirded out to realize that I have a big ol' chunk of bacteria growing—on purpose—in the cupboard above my fridge. Rob is downright grossed out by it, and refuses to look at it. I think it's really beautiful, but I also think placentas are beautiful, so there you go.

Every time the SCOBY is disturbed (as in, you move the jar), a new "layer" forms.

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These layers can be separated off and used to start new, separate batches of kombucha, if you were so inclined.

The SCOBY needs a place to hang out while all the tea-making is going on. Put it in a glass bowl and cover it with the brew you just pulled it out of. I like to drape a dishtowel over the bowl as well, to keep out the flying beasties and cat hairs. Not delicious.

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Oh, hey! The three quarts of water that you put on to boil (even though I forgot to tell you to start your water boiling) is boiling! Add a cup of sugar...

Sugar time!

...and stir.
Still Stirring
There's no tea in here yet. That's turbinado sugar making the water such a lovely color.

After five minutes of stirring and boiling, remove your pot from the heat, and add 5-6 black tea bags. Or, if you're me and making a giant batch when you decided to take pictures, add a fuckton of tea bags.

Teabag time.
Fuckton of teabags.

Let the tea steep for 10 minutes. Remove the bags, and move the tea to a gallon-size glass jar to cool. A cloth over the top will keep out the fruit flies.

Cooling off.

If you know anything about yeast, you know that they like to be warm, but not too hot. Too much heat will kill your SCOBY. When the tea is body temperature, it's ready for your SCOBY. I say "body temperature" because I find the best way to check the tea is to plunge an impeccably clean hand into it. Ahh!

Add your SCOBY and the "starter" that it's been sitting in to the jar of tea, cover, and stow away for 9-14 days. The length of time it takes to brew your kombucha will depend on how warm it is in your house (the tea ferments faster in warmer spaces) and how tart you like it (the longer it goes, the tarter it gets—until you just have vinegar).

I highly recommend swing-top bottles when it comes to bottling kombucha. No metal or plastic ever comes in contact with the kombucha, and the swing-top helps preserve some of the natural fizziness.
Bottled &<span class=

* * *
There is a ridiculous amount of information about kombucha out there on the Internet. If you're interested in brewing your own, I recommend Hannah Crum's Kombucha Kamp. Hannah is quite hippie-dippy (which I love!), but her instructions and FAQ are crystal clear and short-'n'-sweet. Unlike mine.


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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

No Expectations

Popcorn

Recently, a whole string of things have been awful largely due to my expectations. Not my expectation that things would be awful. No, I do try to remain positive. (Sadly, I'm not very good at it.) The expectations I'm talking about are the ones that go along with Having a Plan, big or small.

Life will work according to the order I've set up in my head. This will happen, and then this will happen, and then this.

But when does life ever really work out like that, whether it's around the day-to-day or big, life-changing stuff?

As I was reflecting again on Westley's first two years, it struck me that the thing most responsible for my misery was my expectations. My plan for what having a child would be like—and the inevitable fall when that plan didn't "work out." I had expected to feel and behave a certain way, and when I didn't feel those feelings or do those behaviors, I labeled myself a loser mother with a shitty life.

Today, I had another perfectly lovely day ruined by expectations. Everything I did today was fine: heaps of rad Mommy-Westley time, including lunch out with vegan desserts and an impromptu trip to an out-of-the-way park. But my attitude about it all completely stank. Because this isn't what was supposed to happen!

It's late this time around, but my mid-year resolution just revealed itself: no more expectations! I'm sure I can't stop myself from planning (it's practically a reflex at this point), but I'd like to be more open to improvisation and surprise. Instead of living with plans, I'm going to attempt living with ease.

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Monday, July 18, 2011

It's One-derful

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Hearing Rob tell me he wasn't sure he wanted another child was like having a bucket of ice water dumped over my head. I think I shrieked. Or maybe that sound was just my heart ripping down the middle.

It was almost a week before I calmed down. I was handed another lesson in not assuming—not assuming my partner and I were on the same page, not assuming we had the same goals—but I wanted no part of it. I wanted to react emotionally, histrionically, and make this about him being an asshole. His change of heart-and-mind was a betrayal to Our Family Plan. Did this mean Rob was actually kind of happy that I'd miscarried? Oh God.

The crazy part of my mind had a field day. A series of them, really.

And then we talked about it some more, and Rob explained that he was worried about "starting over" with a baby. The older Westley gets, the more capable Rob feels. For him, a child who can communicate in complete sentences, use the toilet, play on his own, and be curious about Rob's hobbies and interests is "progress." A new baby takes the parenthood journey back to "Start."

4<span class=

Was it all so awful? I wondered.

Westley's babyhood was nothing like I'd imagined it would be—and I was half-suicidal most of the time—but there are some wonderful moments. There are things I'd like to do again. Whole days, here and there. I'd even do the awful parts again with another child if it meant not having all of my eggs in one psyche, if you will. I can't imagine putting the entirety of my parenting energy into just one little person. And anyway, a huge part of the awfulness came from never having done it before!

If it were up to me alone, I'd still choose to have another baby. But after Rob's and my conversations about his fears and concerns, I feel much more mixed on the subject. I'm not quite at a Whew, dodged a bullet on that one! place about my miscarriage, but I can almost see the silver lining around the cloud. (Westley might possibly have started preschool and welcomed a new brother or sister in the same week.) It doesn't help my more-kids cause that the past several days with Kid Number One have been especially challenging. More than once, I've been so thankful that there wasn't also a rarely-sleeping, always-breastfeeding baby around.

4<span class=

I think this is one situation where I can't win. There is no right choice. The facts are: Westley is wonderful and difficult, and being his mother is really difficult, but also pretty stinking wonderful. There are advantages to being an only child. There are advantages to having siblings. Motherhood blindsided me. Finally conceiving a second time and then miscarrying was a one-two punch that still smarts.

Also: Having another baby will not "undo" the awfulness of Westley's first years, even if I do it perfectly the second time around. Having another baby will definitely not correct the physical and emotional fallout of a miscarriage. My husband has a point about the "starting over" thing. Despite promising myself otherwise, I will be so fucking scared if I get pregnant again.

The most important part of all of this mess of thoughts and emotions—and the only thing that makes me feel remotely better—is that my One truly is wonderful.

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

An Accidental Tradition

Seattle Pride Picnic, 2010
Pride Picnic

Pride Picnic

Brass Band & Balloon Fun

Seattle Pride Picnic, 2011

Pride Picnic

Pride Picnic

Pride Picnic

(If there's a 2012 Seattle Pride Picnic—and I hope there will be—I'll be taking Westley's picture with the giant rainbow balloons.)

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Friday, July 15, 2011

The Year of Living Vulnerably

After a few godawful hospital experiences this year, I was very pleased to discover last night that when you go into the ER with chest pain and difficulty breathing, they take you pretty motherfucking seriously.

Within minutes of walking in the door, I had three people hooking me up to nine different monitors. I've never seen a nurse move as quickly as the guy who did my blood draw and inserted my IV port did.

"Whatbringsyouintoday?—OK,bigpinch,therewego!Gonnasendtheseofftothelab!"

Zoom!

The rushing around made me feel extremely vulnerable, but also oddly relaxed. They're going to fix me. Is this...? I'm in the trauma room. Awesome.

When the flurry slowed, I arched my head back to see the monitor behind me. My heart-rate, normally in the mid-sixties—thud...thud...thud—was hovering in the low nineties. I tried taking a deep breath, noting my chest pain, listening for the wheeze. Heeeeee. Like breathing through a straw.

"It sounds like you've got a mouse in there," my nurse, Jill, said later.

Maybe the invisible 17-pound cat sitting on my throat will eat it.

After lots of interviews, a breathing treatment, an aspirin, and a chest X-ray, I was feeling quite a bit better. I even managed to sing a little (Cee Lo Green), which is, apparently, what I do while waiting in hospitals.

My blood work came back boring, and as a healthy(ish) non-smoker, I was diagnosed with viral bronchitis and sent home.

Before this year, the last time I went to the hospital was in high school, when I had an infected spider bite on the back of my knee. Before that, it was when I broke my arm in preschool. I'm not a delicate flower. Except that apparently, now I am.

My 2011 has been a year of maladies, and it's only July! It feels meaningful in a narrative way, but I have no idea what I'm supposed to learn from all of this. I can only assume I have some serious body karma to work off.

I just hope this isn't the dress rehearsal for something even more awful.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

No Image Available

Bloom

I got to spend last weekend and the days on either side with my closest, usually faraway, friends. Yesterday I shook the beach sand out of my tote bag and—sulking—attempted to remember how to do the everyday.

Today, feeling grossly away-sick (and just plain gross from five days of dessert for breakfast, drinks on the beach, and fried dinner) I looked through my vacation photos. The slide show was disappointing.

...

Despite being a former aspiring filmmaker, I'm not much of a photographer. (Though, to be completely fair, I always gravitated towards avant-garde video art. Never documentary.) My "technique" amounts to taking lots of shots, often from strange angles, and hoping for a handful of Good Pictures. This trip, I took a measly 78 pictures, very few of which seem worth saving.

Sauce for 5

I prefer candids to posed pictures, but I'd prefer to participate in a conversation than photograph it. So I try to focus the lens of my little point-and-shoot on the details. The tiger lilies that greet you as you leave the beach house. Five girls' worth of dipping sauce. The diabetic cat sleeping in the half-unpacked carry-on. Knit graffiti.

Cat Bed

Yo[u] a[re] <span class=
You are loved.

My greatest disappointment with pictures—especially those of gatherings of friends and extra-special days—is that I can never capture the things I most cherish. How do you photograph an inside joke?

13

Whether I'm vacationing with friends or following Westley in the park, the pursuit of a Good Picture—even using my slapdash approach—can put up a kind of emotional wall. I'm paying attention to my camera's settings and how everything looks instead of how things feel. Instead of "living in the present," I'm living in some imaginary future moment, where I look at the photographic evidence of my amazing experience and exclaim, "Yes!"

How much better it would be to remain present and take no images at all.

BE HERE NOW

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